David Ross still Cub ace Jon Lester’s catcher, despite Montero results

SHARE David Ross still Cub ace Jon Lester’s catcher, despite Montero results

What’s a former All-Star have to do to get a few extra at-bats around here?

That’s been an ongoing question for first-year Cubs catcher Miguel Montero, the former workhorse catcher for the Diamondbacks who has struggled at points this season adjusting to more down time than he’s used to.

But even he settles in behind the plate to catch Jon Lester for only the second pairing with him this season, Saturday against the White Sox, Montero might not want to get too comfortable.

Despite a lights-out performance from the Cubs’ $155-million left-hander with Montero behind the plate Monday against the Cardinals, manager Joe Maddon said

Lester will be paired up again almost exclusively with personal catcher David Ross after the All-Star break.

Ross has been on the disabled list the past week because of concussion symptoms suffered July 1 in New York.

“I don’t want to walk away from it because a guy got injured, and I think it’s worked pretty well to this point,” Maddon said. “The other day what you saw was just Jonny had his best stuff of the entire season. That’s what I saw.”

Lester took a no-hitter into the seventh Monday and didn’t give up an earned run in seven innings of work.

Montero, who as a young backup was a personal catcher in 2007 for Livan Hernandez and 2008 for Randy Johnson in Arizona, hasn’t complained about the catching-rotation arrangments this season – including a three-catcher rotation until Welington Castillo’s trade in May.

He usually starts unless Lester is pitching for the Cubs or a left-hander is starting for the other guys.

And he said he “felt fine” working with Lester.

“The question should be to him, see if he feels comfortable when I was catching him. I feel fine,” said Montero, who caught more games than any other catcher in baseball the last four seasons but is on pace to catch his lowest total in a season without a DL stint since 2009.

“The first inning was a little odd for me because I tried to think along with him, but after the first inning, I was like, `I’m just going to call my came and see if he likes it or not,’ “ Montero said. “He didn’t really shake me off. It was pretty good.”

Lester said he has “no problems, no issues” with his comfort level throwing to Montero.

“We had a scouting report, a game plan, and he did a good job of taking that into the game,” Lester said. “And both of us [did well] not allowing throwing to each other for the first time affect anything.”

Lester said he’s fine pitching to either catcher, even though Ross was signed in large part to pair up with Lester as he did for nearly two productive seasons in Boston.

“I didn’t come in here and ask to throw to Rossy,” Lester said. “That’s Joe’s decision. That’s the manager’s decision. I think he went with that early on just based on probably the comfort and getting used to the league and getting used to the surroundings and all that stuff, and having something that’s a constant that maybe would have helped a little bit.

“I don’t second-guess what he decides. Whatever he wants to do is fine.”

Maddon said Montero will catch Lester Saturday, despite the tough lefty-vs.-lefty hitting matchup against Sox ace Chris Sale.

But after Ross returns from the DL following next week’s All-Star break, he’ll be back with Lester – with the possible exceptions of an especially good hitting matchup or two for Montero.

“I think with Miguel, when we’re able to give him a day off or two, it really seems like it picks up his performance,” Maddon said. “And we expect to play an extra month this year, so I want them all to be frisky.”

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